Monday, 23 November 2009

Caledonian Hunt.

The Royal Caledonian Hunt was founded in 1777 as
the Hunters' Club, becoming the Caledonian Hunt 
Club in 1778. The Duke of Hamilton was president, 
and the Countess of Eglinton was patroness. There
were 12 original members, from the aristocracy; by
October 1778 there were 50 members, admitted by
ballot, who paid a 5 guinea annual subscription and
a one guinea entry fee. The Club met for dinner once
a month over the winter months in Edinburgh, and 
additional meetings and dinners were held during the
Edinburgh races and when the Hunt held its own
annual meet in October. Other social events, e.g.
assemblies and concerts, were also arranged, as
well as the annual Caledonian Hunt Ball, already 
attracting over 300 by 1787. The poet Robert
Burns was enrolled a member in 1792.

The founding aim of the Hunt was apparently to

'further the interests of fox-hunting', but this was
widened to include the encouragement of horse 
racing and breeding in Scotland. The Hunt did not,
however, organise its own fixtures, instead 
sponsoring a race in local race meetings. Ayr 
was a regular venue in the early 19th century,
but Edinburgh did not feature until there was
turf track laid at Musselburgh in 1816. Mostly 
the membership was Borders-based, which
influenced its choice of meets. The membership
in general may have preferred social events in the
early years of the Hunt's existence, rather than
maintain racehorses, although there were exceptions.
From the mid-1820s, the Hunt membership was
more interested in racing than hunting. During the 
visit of King George IV to Edinburgh in 1822, he 
attended the Hunt ball, and agreed to become its 
patron, whereby the name then became Royal 
Caledonian Hunt.

Thanks to tireetam

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